Southern Africans have only been migrating to the U.S in recent years. They have also historically tended to return to their home countries after moving to the U.S. In recent years however, Southern Africans have began to become more permanent migrants. Similar to other African groups, the majority of Southern Africans live in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C, Atlanta, New York City, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
In terms of regional representation, West Africans make up 36% of the African populations living in these cities, East Africans make up 26% of the population, and the remainder come from Southern and Northern Africa.
As such, Southern Africans are fewer in number and are therefore underrepresented in pan-African organizations, events, projects or initiatives. One of the primary goals of SACU is to create and awareness of Southern African cultures by increasing the visibility, participation and representation of Southern African communities in the USA.
Most of the Southern African communities have established national specific associations, church groups, or professional associations that have been established since the 1980s. The majority of these groups work as separate organizations.
In addition, the majority of Southern Africans living in the USA have either lived, worked or gone to school in a neighboring Southern African nation. Many have a spouse, parent or friend who were born in a neighboring country. As such, Southern African communities have been connected for a long time. They have also been been supporting each other informally since coming to the United States. This was particularly true when they were few Southern Africans living in the USA. One of the primary goals of SACU is to build and strengthen these communities that are already intertwined.
The idea behind SACU is to formally unite these communities to build community and increase the visibility of Southern Africans in the USA.